Every summer, Mitzpe Ramon, in the heart of Israel’s Negev Desert, becomes a magnet for thousands who flock to the edge of the town’s famous crater to behold the Perseids meteor shower. There could hardly be a better place to stay during the annual event than the Desert Home B&B, whose rooms and garden overlook an expanse of desert under the inky, starry sky.
Mitzpe Ramon is the destination of choice for observing this celestial wonder because there is little ambient light to interfere with the spectacle unfolding in the never-ending black sky; the town emits little enough artificial light under ordinary circumstances — and on meteor shower night, residents maintain a strict, self-imposed blackout.
Desert Home, already on the very edge of its residential neighborhood, is not only but a few minutes’ drive from the town’s permanent astronomical observatory, there is also a vast open field just on the other side of the B&B garden’s fence that extends to infinity and rivals any of the best communal viewing spots. With peak viewing hours between midnight and 3:00 a.m., it is very convenient to be able to climb into bed within minutes of watching shooting stars streak through the sky.
At Desert Home, there are four spacious units to choose from, each with its own porch overlooking the garden and the wilderness beyond. Each unit is furnished with a queen-size bed, and there is ample for an extra bed to accommodate a third occupant. However, Desert Home is for couples or adults only, not for families with children.
All units feature kitchenettes equipped with refrigerator, microwave oven, hotplate and electric kettle for making coffee and tea — which are also provided, along with snacks. Guests are invited to pick their own herbs for tea from the Desert Home garden, which contains a comfortable seating area with plenty of cushions, as well as one very special amenity: a wooden hot tub, available for soaking 24/7.
Each unit also comes with an LCD TV that receives satellite programming, a DVD player and an audio system. The units share a small library of DVDs, paperbacks and illustrated hardcover books about the region.
All bathrooms come with full-length bathtubs, and wall heaters for those chilly desert nights. Heating is no problem in the units’ living and sleeping areas: not only do the air conditioners in each unit also convert to heating mode, there are free-standing stoves that also do the job.
The private porch of each unit is decorated with herb planters and looks out over the desert. It is here where breakfast trays are delivered, served to each unit on a large platter laden with homemade whole grain bread, eggs, assorted salads, local cheeses, and jams made from fruit grown in the garden that is in full view.
Of course, the Perseids meteor shower is not the only attraction that brings visitors to Mitzpe Ramon. Its famous crater, the largest in Israel, is a unique geological phenomenon, and a popular hiking destination, a major station on the Israel Trail, which extends the entire length of the country. It is definitely a major waypoint for travelers headed to the Red Sea resort city of Eilat.
Number of units: Four efficiency apartments plus one double room.
Published rates: $177-$229 per night.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Desert Home for purposes of review. Photo courtesy of Desert Home. Photo of Perseids by Rick L. Crowell Photography.